Set far off on a hill overlooking Tanzania's Serengeti National Park lies the Melia Serengeti Lodge.
The drive there took us from the open savannah where we saw lions, wildebeest and impala to the higher and more vegetated area of the park. Passing into taller grasses and trees we looked hard into the vegetation to try to spot antelope, elephants and leopard.
Up a hillside we climbed higher and the trees gave way to lush plants, as the pebbled driveway to the Melia come into view. As our car came around to the entranceway we saw the smiling faces of the management team and Masai warriors awaiting our arrival.
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Walking up the stairs I emerged into the open lobby which overlooked the Serengeti. It literally took my breath away. The architect was able to use the hillside in such a special way, making you emerge at what seems like the top of a mountain. Looking down onto an open air resort reachable by a long staircase that takes you down to the pool, open restaurants and bar. From this viewpoint I felt like I was looking over the grounds of a kingdom. Feeling like I was Jack at the helm of Titanic I almost wanted to throw up arms and scream I'm on top of the World.
Before heading to our room we explored the lobby level gin and coffee bar. After some refreshing beverages we checked in and were given a virtual tour of the hotel on a larger than life IPAD. The Melia Serengeti Lodge in an effort to reduce waste aims to be paper free and does everything digitally. Well on their way to being a beacon of sustainability in the Serengeti and quite possibly around the world I was eager to learn about all their environmentally friendly initiates. But first....lets explore.
I was traveling with a girlfriend so we were put up in a glamorous looking double room. Beds were draped with netting and faced a floor to ceiling window and sliding door. Our room had a wet bar with wine fridge, coffee station and well organized closet area adjacent to the bathroom. The bathroom was beautiful with great smelling lotions and soaps. You wouldn’t know the hotel is run on 40% solar power as no amenity had been skipped. Our sliding door opened to a deck with comfortable lounging area to view Impala in the fields down below.
Since the hotel is open like many in the Serengeti. Walking alone at night is not recommended. There are Masai guards to escort you to and from the rooms as the darkness falls. Escorted to the pool we sat down to watch the sunset, enjoy a glass of wine and nibble on some snacks before dinner.
The hotel has three restaurants each serving differing cuisines buffet style. The main restaurant for dinner and breakfast is on the open pool level which means every seat has a view of the beautiful forest below. At night a large fire pit makes for a perfect place to sip on a cocktail and watch the sunset over the infinity pool. Which is exactly what we did. After a week of hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro; watching the sunset over the Serengeti was magical to say the least.
After our magical sunset we sat down for dinner Al Fresco. The head Chef Bouya is Senegalese but speaks French, English, Swahili and has a culinary palette that is so well rounded I wouldn’t be surprised to find him in any of the best restaurants in Europe. Dinner was a mixture of Mediterranean, Japanese and middle eastern. With options for meat eaters, pescatarians and vegetarians. The deserts were varied and all around the food was the best we’d had in Africa. Even the lunch boxes made for Safari are far superior then food from any of the other lodges.
The next morning I was mesmerized by the view. The openness of the resort is so beautiful I could have sat on the deck all day looking out at the bush. But then again, I’d miss all the animals.
The Melia Serengeti can take you on a driving safari or balloon safari and even walk you around the grounds to look for animals with advanced notice. Seeing the Serengeti from a hot air balloon you will have an advantage that few will ever see in the Serengeti. Viewing the hippo school as a soaring bird would. Or animals running through the grasslands from a vantage point of the eagles.
The Serengeti, also known as the endless plain covers more than 5,700 square miles and the utter amount of animals absolutely blew my mind. More than 1.5 million wildebeest roam its plains and almost 500,000 zebras. Not to mention 25 prides of lions, cheetah, leopard, elephant, hippo and all the prey species like antelope, hauxbeest, impala, baboon, giraffe and many more. Visiting in March we were at the tail end of the dry season and many of the animals had young. Seeing lion cubs, zebra fawns, warthoglets and monkey babies was a priceless experience.
Because I own an ecotourism company and believe in empowering people to better the world through travel, I am always looking for companies that believe in the importance of being low impact. The Melia caught my attention for its sustainable design and community involvement.
Tucked away within the Serengeti they were forced but also excited about being off the grid. More than 40% of their power comes from on site solar panels with more being installed in the future.
Concerned about waste ending up in the National Park they have also built an onsite incinerator that captures emissions and turns waste into usable compost for the gardens.
The grounds also feature a water filtration and recycling system that has been designed and built right at the Melia as well. This makes it possible for hotel guests to drink water straight from the tap. Their water system also uses recycled water to fill the animal's watering hole which was still under construction during my visit, but should be an unbelievable place to watch animals in the coming months.
The Melia Serengeti also makes sure they are helping the community. Employing Masai warriors, selling locally made crafts, and scheduling waste clean ups in and outside the park. They make sure that for every dollar they make they are also giving back.
I'm Alice Ford; and you are invited on my adventure of a lifetime. I am a stunt woman, green goddess and adventure junkie. I'm trying to explore as much as the world as I can while being Eco-friendly.